The left field wall can’t keep every baseball in front of it. The Orioles have cleared it a few times in defiance of the new measurements, but there are more denials than dugout celebrations.
Ryan Mountcastle thought he hit a game-tying, two-run homer off Kansas City’s Zack Greinke in the fifth inning of the opening game of today's doubleheader, but umpires held him at second base with a run-scoring double. The Orioles lost the challenge, took the lead, lost it and fell to the Royals 6-4 in Game 1 at Camden Yards.
Rougned Odor was a hero in the seventh with his go-ahead, two-run double, but he committed an error with two outs in the ninth by failing to backhand Nicky Lopez’s grounder, Jorge López threw the ball into right field on a pickoff attempt and Michael A. Taylor singled to left.
A dramatic swing in the game and Odor’s afternoon.
Cionel Pérez allowed back-to-back singles, with Salvador Perez bringing home Taylor with an insurance run.
Odor took a safer approach than Mountcastle in the seventh, lifting a fly ball down the left field line off Collin Snider that fell for a double and gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead. López inherited a runner from Jordan Lyles with one out in the eighth and let him score, leaving the veteran with a no-decision.
Lyles became the first Orioles pitcher to work past the sixth inning, going 7 1/3 and allowing three earned runs and four total on 90 pitches. His ERA went from 4.05 to 4.32 as he sat in the dugout and watched Ryan O’Hearn’s fly ball score Andrew Benintendi.
“Big picture, doubleheader today, getting some length from the first guy starting the first game. Coming in today, seven innings is kind of that goal,” said Lyles, who registered his 900th career strikeout in the first.
“We were pretty efficient. They came out swinging early and often. … Overall pleased with it.”
Mountcastle’s ball hit the top of the wall and bounced back into play as Hays sped home and reduced the lead to 3-2. Mountcastle and Hays have homered into the left field seats this season. Mountcastle would have done it again today in any other ballpark, his double measured at 407 feet with an exit velocity of 104.6 mph.
"I was hoping there was some fan interference of some sort,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Just one more inch.”
Hays had three hits within the first five innings, walked in the seventh and singled again in the ninth to raise his average to .316 with an .867 OPS. Mountcastle singled in the seventh before Odor came up with his own way to defy the wall.
Just stay away from it.
Mountcastle singled again in the ninth for his fourth hit of the afternoon, bringing Odor to the plate with two outs as the potential winning run. He flied out.
Cedric Mullins collected a single and run-scoring double in the first two innings, making him 12-for-28 with four doubles and two home runs in his last seven games.
Lyles, meanwhile, is giving the Orioles what they wanted after signing him to a one-year, $8 million contract with an option. Taking the ball every time it’s his turn, consuming innings and giving them a chance to win.
“He pitched really well,” Hyde said. “Went into the eighth inning for us, just did a great job. Mixed speeds, not much traffic throughout the day, did a really good job of a lot of soft contact. Really happy with the length, especially in a doubleheader. You get some starters to give you length, that’s huge, and Jordan did it.
“We really haven’t had that, a guy that is able to take the ball and is irritated when he comes out in the eighth inning, which I’m happy about. The guy wants to stay on the mound. I think it’s fantastic.”
Edward Olivares had an RBI single in the third to tie the game, but he left with an injury. Taylor pinch-ran – a dramatic swing in his day, too.
The Royals scored twice in the fifth. Bobby Witt Jr. led off with a single, Kyle Isbel reached on an infield hit after Lyles’ foot appeared to come off the bag while he took the throw from Odor, Mountcastle fielded Nicky Lopez’s grounder and hit Isbel on the helmet while trying for the force at second base, and Benintendi lined a sacrifice fly to left field.
"I was waiting on Roogie to turn and fire at me," Lyles said. "I guess my momentum kind of took me a little too far. I thought I was still on the base. I've got to look at replay. The replay on the iPad, it looked like I was still on the base, but the other guys in the dugout, there were some other views that said otherwise. I probably just need to slow down a little bit more."
Lyles retired the side in order in the sixth and received a warm greeting in the dugout as the bullpen remained quiet. He threw 12, 12, 10 and nine pitches over the first four innings and 10 in the seventh.
The Orioles turned their 32nd double play after Witt led off the seventh with an infield hit.
Greinke lasted through 5 2/3 innings and 10 hits, his removal coming after Ramón Urías’ leadoff single, a ground ball and popup. Snider needed one pitch to induce a grounder from Mullins.
Mullins, Trey Mancini and Hays singled in the first inning, but the Orioles didn’t score. Jorge Mateo singled in the second inning, stole his eighth base of the season and came home on Mullins’ automatic double to right-center field.
A standup triple if the ball doesn’t hop the fence.
Hays singled in the third, giving him a team-leading nine multi-hit games, and Mountcastle followed with a single. But the game remained tied.
Mancini flied to the edge of the left field warning track leading off the bottom of the ninth. Another loud out. The wall taunting the Orioles again while getting the last word.
Down on the farm, Garrett Stallings (six innings) and Morgan McSweeney (one) combined for a no-hitter in the opening game of Double-A Bowie’s doubleheader against Harrisburg. The 11th no-hitter in Baysox history and first since Mike Baumann in July 2019.
Joey Ortiz doubled and homered in the second game. Conner Loeprich allowed one hit, walked none and struck out five in three innings.
Kevin Smith, removed from Triple-A Norfolk’s injured list, tossed a scoreless first inning with one hit, two walks and two strikeouts. Tim Naughton gave up two runs in the second inning, his first this season.